Longtime Tehachapi resident Lydia Wheat passed away on March 31, 2017, in a Bakersfield rest home at the age of 95. She was born in Mexico and came to the United States around the age of 5. She and Catalina, her younger sister, accompanied their mother, Amelia Muro, to the United States. They were joining Amelia’s new husband, Jose Muro, in the small community of Monolith. They soon would become a part of a new family.
The entire community of Monolith soon became Lydia’s domain, for she was a curious and energetic child. At home, she became an indispensable aide to her mother in the kitchen, and later she helped with the care of the new babies in the growing family. At the appointed time, she entered the old Monolith School, where she quickly learned to speak English.
Lydia was a born caregiver. At an early age, she started tagging along with Dr. Madge Schlotthauer, acting as an interpreter for Spanish speakers in the tiny community. Soon she was assisting the good doctor by performing small, but increasingly important chores. In a perfect world, she would have become a registered nurse, but the difficult times dictated that she would work not only in hospitals, but in retail stores, a cement factory during World War II years, and in restaurants as an expert cook.
When she retired, she gave her church the benefit of her expertise by directing and cooking for the funeral dinners of many in her church parish. She also directed the parish kitchen in many fundraising tamale sales. Only after working into her eighties did she retire from her volunteer efforts.
Lydia was born in the 1900s, but she was very much a modern woman. She embraced everything new, especially whatever advanced the position of women in the world and in the workplace. She got a driver’s license, purchased a car, and drove it long before her male peers. She was proud to say that she did what she wanted to do, and she willingly took responsibility for the results, good or bad.
Lydia was widowed, preceded in death by her first husband, Carl Schmidt, as well as her second husband, Ran Wheat. She was also preceded in death by her sister, Catalina Vasquez; and three brothers, Fred, Ernie and Joe Muro. She is survived by her son, Frederick Schmidt (wife Helen), and stepson, Carl Schmidt (wife Socorro). She is also survived by four grandchildren, Robby Schmidt (wife Cory), Brian Schmidt (wife Paula), Carl Schmidt III (wife Jill), Judy Buchanan (husband Brian); three great-grandchildren, Clara, Maren and Paul; one sister, Esther Verdugo; two brothers, Rudy Muro and Alfonso Muro; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Recitation of the Rosary will held be on April 10, 2017, at 6 p.m., at St. Malachy’s Catholic Church in Tehachapi. A funeral Mass will be celebrated on April 11, 2017, at 1:30 p.m., also at St. Malachy’s. Interment to follow at Tehachapi Westside Cemetery.
Wood Family Funeral Service is handling the arrangements. For condolences, please visit woodmortuary.net.